Oak Cliff history: Ketchum & Killum

Ketchum & Kellum on Kiest
An advertisement from The Oak, the 1964 Adamson High School yearbook.

When we interviewed actor Steven Tobolowsky, an Oak Cliff native, for the May Advocate, he mentioned the notorious name of a Kiest Boulevard business.

“As I look back on Oak Cliff, there was this kind of unspoken tension underneath everything. There was a racist underpinning to everything that was just commonplace. For example, Jeff Davis Elementary. Down the street was a bait shop called KKK, Ketchum & Killum on Kiest. We thought it was funny because it had no context for us. There were no black people in Oak Cliff at the time because it was a white-flight area.”

Tobolowsky also mentions this shop in Kirby Warnock’s documentary, “When Dallas Rocked.”

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We happened to come across an advertisement for this business, which sold guns, ammo and camping supplies as well as bait, in an old Adamson High School yearbook recently.

It was at 334 W. Kiest in the early ’60s. Now that is the stretch of Kiest between U.S. Highway 67 and Interstate 35. A search of newspaper archives pulls up four stories about the shop, all in 1963.

One story, which refers to the store as “Ketchum & Killum-on-Kiest” is about the time the shop caught fire in June 1963, and firefighters saved a baby alligator from inside.

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The store had been reopened by October of that year, when employee George Bullock was interviewed for a local reaction story about the Cuban Missile Crisis. Demand for guns in Dallas was very high in light of the nation’s commie woes, according to the story, which quoted two other Oak Cliff gun sellers, Oak Cliff Lock & Gun at 2324 S. Zang, and Frank Hillpot, described as an Oak Cliff gun merchant. (The reporter also talked to gun salesmen at Titche’s, Sanger Harris, Cullum & Boren, Sears and Montgomery Ward.)

Two newspaper stories from ’63 mention the shop to make light of its unusual name.

A crime story mentions that Kenneth Holmes Sr. of Dallas Burglar Alarm Co. was listening to the police scanner when he heard a dispatcher announce “Two burglars in building at 334 W. Kiest, Ketchum & Killum.” The punchline comes after the suspects were arrested and “a new man from Shreveport” says, “When are they gonna kill ’em?”

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